Credit: © Maurizio / Fotolia

Credit: © Maurizio / Fotolia

Grape compounds kill colon cancer stem cells

Penn State researchers have found that grape compounds kill colon cancer stem cells.

Resveratrol, a compound found in grapes, could eventually help create treatments to prevent colon cancer, said Jairam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences, Penn State.

According to American Cancer Society statistics, there will be over 95,000 cases of colon cancer diagnosed this year in the United States alone.

The combination of resveratrol and grape seed extract is very effective at killing colon cancer cells,” said Vanamala, who is also a faculty member at the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute. “And what we’re learning is the combination of these compounds is not toxic to healthy cells.”

The study was conducted on mice and in petri dishes. The researchers said that the study could pave the way form tests in humans.

If successful in humans, the grape compounds could then be turned into pill form to help prevent colon cancer development and recurrence.

We are particularly interested in targeting stem cells because, according to cancer stem-cell theory, cancerous tumors are driven by cancer stem cells,” said Vanamala. “Cancer stem cells are capable of self-renewal, cellular differentiation and maintain their stem cell-like characteristics even after invasion and metastasis.”

The combined effect of grape seed extract and resveratrol may provide an insight into why plant-based diets are so effective against cancer. The wide array of healthy compounds in plants help target multiple pathways that cause cancer.

This also connects well with a plant-based diet that is structured so that the person is getting a little bit of different types of plants, of different parts of the plant and different colors of the plant,” said Vanamala. “This seems to be beneficial for not only promoting bacterial diversity, but also preventing chronic diseases and eliminating the colon cancer stem cells.”

The study showing that grape compounds kill colon cancer stem cells was published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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1. “Grape-based Compounds Kill Colon Cancer Stem Cells in Mice.” Penn State University. Penn State University, n.d. Web. 20 June 2017.
2. “Grape Compounds Suppress Colon Cancer Stem Cells in Vitro and in a Rodent Model of Colon Carcinogenesis.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. BioMed Central, 09 Aug. 2016. Web. 20 June 2017.

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